Innovation is usually not just stumbled upon. More often than not, innovative thinking begins with a problem to solve. A tricky problem. Or maybe it’s a typical sales challenge – how to get more shelf space for my product at Walmart – but we don’t want to do it the same way everyone else is already doing it.
When defining the challenge, the real mission is to re-define that challenge. We may end up confirming and validating it. Or, we may find that we can understand the problem in another way, in a broader context, and open up new possibilities for a solution. “Your approach needs to seek the correct problem,” says Brian Stone, associate professor in the department at Ohio State University and principal partner in the international consultancy Latitude 40 Design, “because everybody’s been trying to solve the same problem using the same tools, and leveraging the same resources. But that particular problem might not be where you need to get to in terms of innovation. It might be a different problem.
“For example, there’s a product called Clocky, and it’s an alarm clock with two wheels on each side. When the alarm goes off, Clocky races off of your furniture and runs around your room avoiding you. You can’t just reach over and turn the alarm off. You literally have to get out of bed and chase it to turn it off. The issue has never really been waking up – it’s getting out of bed. Clocky looked at the problem a different way.”
What is a current sales challenge for you? How can you get to the root of the real challenge and re-define it?
If you missed our webinar in December, you can still catch it on YouTube: The Art of Innovation. Let us know how innovation can work in your sales organization!